UNRISD undertakes cross-country, multidisciplinary research on the social dimensions of contemporary development issues, guided by the conviction that effective development policies depend crucially on an understanding of the social and political context.
We have a long and consistent tradition of examining the—often neglected—social drivers and impacts of structural and social change processes, and of particular development strategies and policies.
UNRISD research has frequently challenged mainstream development ideas, providing alternative development visions and policy options. As a result, over almost half a century, our research has shaped major shifts in thinking on critical development issues including: social indicators of development, gender, participation, civil society and social movements, identity and conflict, corporate accountability, social policy and the social impacts of globalization.
Through our autonomous status and institutional location within the UN system, UNRISD exercises remarkable convening power across academia, policy communities and civil society from around the world, and has unique opportunities to engage with and influence current policy debates.
Our overall goal is to generate knowledge and articulate policy alternatives that address urgent social development challenges, and contribute to a reduction in poverty and inequality. To achieve this goal, UNRISD is pursuing three objectives in the period from 2011to 2014:
Undertake research that illuminates social development challenges and contributes to the articulation of policy options relevant to the current context of crisis and uncertainty;
Increase the recognition and use of our research within the United Nations system, the donor community, academia and civil society in order to influence policy and practice; and
Secure the long-term financial stability of the Institute through an increase in funding and diversification of funding sources.
UNRISD research frequently challenges conventional thinking and generates alternative policy options. In the light of recent, recurrent and persistent crises and continued uncertainties (whether related to economic recovery or a changing climate), there is a clear need to rethink old approaches and assumptions, and to examine the innovative new practices coming from the South which offer constructive alternatives.
The 2011–2014 strategy for the Institute engages with these contemporary development challenges. UNRISD research for 2010–2014 aims to deepen the analysis of social development in contexts of crisis and heightened uncertainty by working under two main themes: Social Policies for Inclusive and Sustainable Development and The Political and Institutional Dynamics of Social Development.
In addition to the research agenda, the Institute has prioritized renewed efforts to communicate effectively with diverse stakeholders, and to engage in UN policy processes, in order to enhance the impact of our research. UNRISD will also continue its efforts to secure the longer term financial stability through a strategy to increase the level of funding and to diversify funding sources.